Apple Gadget iPhone Hardware

Update: iPhone 15 Pro saw display burn-in issues globally

Ward Zhou

posted on October 13, 2023 8:30 am

Update: Apple has dropped a release candidate of iOS 17.1 on Wednesday, which solved this issue for me. The update log says it “fixes an issue that may cause display image persistence.” The official release of this update is estimated to arrive next week, according to Apple’s routine in software updates.

Apple rolled out its highly anticipated iPhone 15 series last month. However, as the first cadre of users worldwide started using their new iPhones from Sep. 22, several problems were spotted, including device overheating and display burn-in.

Apple promptly responded to the overheating issue for the iPhone 15 Pro series by releasing a software patch to fix it. While some issues have been addressed, the display burn-in problem has been witnessing growing traction on various social media platforms and support forums around the globe.

The burn-in issue is rooted in the organic illuminating material of the OLED displays, which naturally ages over time. If there are significant discrepancies in the aging process among the pixels, you might notice ghost images or watermarks on your display, an irreversible process.

However, the OLED technology of today is far more robust and mature than its early iterations, when burn-in issues were a quite prevalent user complaint. Therefore, it is somewhat surprising to see such a problem rear its head with Apple’s 2023 flagship devices, exemplified by high-end phones like the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max.

And unfortunately, I have also faced the exact same issue with my iPhone 15 Pro Max within a span of two weeks. I am sharing my experience through this article to offer more insights.

It came to my attention while I was using my phone at night, a week into owning it. Ghost marks on the touch keyboard became quite noticeable over a dark background. For reference, my earlier device, an iPhone 13 mini in service for 18 months, did not exhibit such issues. The problem has unfortunately gotten worse over time, as I can now identify the burn marks even under lighting conditions that aren’t completely dark.

(Comparison between my iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 15 Pro Max. Credit: Ward Zhou/PingWest)
(Comparison between my iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 15 Pro Max. Credit: Ward Zhou/PingWest)

Given my window to avail a replacement or a full refund within 14 days, I scheduled an appointment with the Genius Bar at a nearby Apple Store for a detailed inspection.

And the Genius Bar staff was surprised at what they saw for an iPhone just released. In a diagnostic report, they noted, “This issue [burn-in or ghosting image] can be confirmed at the Genius Bar where it’s clearly visible under low-light conditions against a dark background.”

(Diagnostic at Genius Bar. Credit: Ward Zhou/PingWest)
(Diagnostic at Genius Bar. Credit: Ward Zhou/PingWest)

Due to potential stock shortages, they recommended that I opt for a full refund as they might not replace the phone in time in case I missed out the 14-day window.

This issue has generated ample buzz online. A Reddit post on the subject garnered 835 upvotes, while posts on the Apple Community received dozens of resonant responses.


(Screenshot from Xiaohongshu. Credit: PingWest)
(Screenshot from Xiaohongshu. Credit: PingWest)

In China, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max burn-in problem was a hot topic, with posts on the e-commerce social media platform Xiaohongshu racking up hundreds of likes and comments. Users have been actively sharing their testing results about these issues, with ghost images so clear that one could identify their keyboard layouts.

As of press time, Apple has yet to issue a response to this concern. PingWest has tried to reach out to a representative for the retail business in the Chinese region. However, they remain unresponsive at this time.